Volo TV: in-your-face TV oversteps the mark

First Great Western’s Volo TV oversteps the mark and invades my personal space

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As a result of our feedback and this post, Paul Soor, MD of Volo TV contacted me today to tell me that the company is abandoning the ‘can’t switch it off’ policy that I complained about in this post. The reprogramming will take 1 – 2 days but Paul assures me that it is definitely going ahead.

He has also invited me to stop by the office to discuss my feedback and to try out the system for free on my trip to Plymouth tomorrow.

Paul’s getting in touch is an example of good social media monitoring and a willingness to hear and act on feedback -to his and the company’s credit.



Introducing ‘Volo TV’, a personal TV built into the back of the seat in front of you on the train. A nice idea? Well, no.

With more and more of us owning portable media players loaded with all the content we want, this screen-in-the-back-of-the-seat idea with it’s £3.50 per trip monetisation model misses the…ah, train.

Everything about it is unwanted and unwelcome. And it’s way too close to my face, leaving me feeling claustrophobic and trapped. Worse yet, it’s also permanently on. ‘Since this TV replaces the Safety Card’ says the touch-screen blurb ‘it is not possible to switch the screen off’. Unbelievable. So it sits there, running through its promotional videos and pumping out heat – and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. Well, almost nothing.  The woman in front of me had hung her coat over her screen. Good idea. A quick scan up and down the packed carriage showed nobody watching their VoloTV.

Currently, there’s no advertising – but it IS on its way, and judging by the complete lack of paying punters on our journey today, you’ll be seeing it pretty damn soon. So that’s advertising pumping out of a screen you can’t switch off 8 inches from your face? No f*****g way, First Great Western!

Few things create such a universal and instantly negative reaction as Volo TV did today – and that fact alone marks it out as a stunningly bad move. In fact the invasion of my personal space was so unpleasant that I found myself wanting to break the screen.

Instead, my colleagues and I staged a peaceful protest, sticking king sized post-it notes over the screens and leaving First Great Western in no doubt whatsoever as to our feelings.

Spotify Premium: is it worth the money?

After several months as a free Spotify user, the time has come to ask ‘Is the premium service worth it?’

As some visitors know, I’ve been a Spotify free-account user from the early days – since way, way back in December last year.  It’s turned out to be the perfect online form or radio station for me.  I’ve blogged about it enthusiastically and set up more than 400 new users from a steady stream of invites passed from Spotify HQ.

Update: Check out my review of Spotify Premium here

I describe the service in several ways: ‘the death of music ownership'; ‘iTunes as it was supposed to be'; ‘internet radio for the terminally lazy’ and so on.  What I’ve enjoyed most about Spotify is its perfect blend of ‘search’, ‘genre’ and ‘radio’ logic to create endless supplies of new experiences or sickly sweet meanderings down musical memory lane.

It’s internet usability that’s come of age – in the same way that the iPhone is the grown up version of mobile phoning.  Spotify – at present – is almost perfect.  Even the absence of the big, greedily-held catalogues (Pink Floyd, Beatles) is a plus.  Hey, I grew up gorged on that stuff.  It’s a breath of fresh air not to have it polluting the Spotify world.

But the big question is: how will Spotify monetise its service?  (Read: “will it survive so I can continue to enjoy it?”)

At present there are two models: an ad-supported free service and a £9.99 premium service.  Good news is that I’ve bought the ad-supported service 100%.  Great start Spotify, you’re more than half way there.  I’m fully on board.

Now what’s going to make me shell out the £9.99?  Err… nothing – except the desire to get rid of ads.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not hugely motivated by paying money for something to be taken away.  Unless it’s toothache or a tree in danger of falling on my house – in which case it becomes a grudge purchase.

Spotify – please take note.

The one thing that would make Spotify worth £9.99 to me is the ability to put mp3s on my iPhone / iPod.  That would fit in with my lifestyle rather than with the worries and fears of the record industry.

And that’s the crunch here.  Are the record companies ready to take the leap into the unknown?  The fact is they’re going to have to sooner or later.  The only question is whose hand are they going to be holding when they do?

From where I sit, it might as well be Spotify’s.

So it’s not business as usual, then?

6 major companies have withdrawn advertising from Facebook because their ads appeared on a British National Party page. A BBC report quotes Vodafone as saying:

“we were not aware that a Vodafone advertisement would appear next to a British National Party group on Facebook”.

It’s as if nobody ever thought through how online advertising works. The fact that you have no control over the context in which your business appears has, it seems, hit them like a bolt from the blue.

Funnily enough, ‘mu:kaumedia’s Sam Deeks predicted this in a paper for his Masters’ degree at Goldsmiths – all the way back in 1995.